At least one forecaster sees January vehicle sales boding a volatile year in the industry but growth nonetheless.
A preliminary projection by S&P Global Mobility puts new-vehicle sales for the month at 1.09 million for a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 15.2 million.
That’s up slightly year-over-year from about 1.05 million and 15.1 million as S&P expects steady but moderate growth in light-vehicle sales, though it sees the potential for a rollercoaster market.
One market booster it forecasts is increased production after the autumn strikes leading to greater levels of inventory and incentives, which it said could bring more consumers to the dealership who’ve so far stayed on the sidelines due to high interest rates.
New-vehicle inventory at dealerships was about flat in December at 2.45 million units but up 53% year-over-year. The supply translated to an average advertised discount of $3,030, up about 11% month-over-month, S&P said.
The mixed 2024 forecast bag in the end should nevertheless bring modest sales growth of 3% to 15.94 million as interest rates stay high and “economic headwinds remain,” said Principal Analyst Chris Hopson in the forecast.
"Auto consumers continue to be impacted by an uncertain purchase environment,” he said.
"A volatile purchase environment for auto consumers will continue to dictate monthly sales levels."